- Across the web, in bookstores, and recently the theater, criticism of religion broadly and Christianity specifically seem to be ubiquitous.
- I think that a huge factor on both sides of this fight is the reluctance of Christians to speak out passionately and publicly against fundamentalist excesses. Where are the moderate Christians who cry out, not only against the social outrages perpetrated by fundamentalists, but also against the ugly, ignorant, self-serving theologies that drive those outrages? These voices are conspicuously absent in the public square—as rare as moderate Muslims who passionately and publicly condemn Wahabism, shariah, burkas, or jihad.
There are exceptions. Anglican John Shelby Spong has been unflinching: Why Christianity Must Change or Die: A Bishop Speaks to Believers In Exile & The Sins of Scripture: Exposing the Bible's Texts of Hate to Reveal the God of Love. But in my experience, Spong’s courage and passion on the topic are rare. Modernist Christians have been painted with the same brush as fundamentalists because of their reluctance to say loudly what they know to be true based on a century of inquiry: that the Bible has human handprints all over it, that the sins of scripture are real, that we know the historical lineage of fundamentalist theologies and of the Bible itself, that biblical creationism is ludicrous, and that fundamentalist ideas are not only wrongheaded, they are evil.
The cost of this silence is enormous—not only in the form of “open season on Christians”. Mainline denominations—the ones who understand this battle best, are losing adherents to both sides, in part because even their own members don’t know what they stand for. To stand for something, you have to be willing to stand against something. And if you’re a church, you can’t just stand against social ills like poverty, war, homophobia, or abstinence only education. One job of religion is to nurture (or simply provide) a world view that lets people know why those things matter. Things that matter are worth fighting about.
As the middle falls out of our religious spectrum, fundamentalists and freethinkers are left with nowhere to go but the trenches. The alternative to revolution is evolution. That’s what modernist people of faith have to offer. It is the option that is missing when they go silent. Is it open season on Christians? Only if thoughtful believers let it be.